Crooked Vine Winery2004 Viognier
Viognier can head north in a light and perfumey direction, or head south on an intense and heavyweight tropical cruise. This wine, from two vineyards in San Benito County – De Rose (18.8%) and Vista Verde (80.2%) – was picked about 26.5 degrees Brix, and stainless steel fermented for the first part of its life. Then it was off to European Oak Boot Camp for 7 months, where it languished sur lies in 81% French and 19% Hungarian barrels. Wow, no bloody wonder this is such heady stuff.
The aromas wafting from the glass are so rich you can almost see the vapors: this wine is redolent of super-ripe peaches, bananas and ripe mangoes. The overwhelming phenolics make one think about banana cream pie or a tropical fruit crème bruleé. On the palate, it is absolutely dripping with ripe tropical fruit flavors, including lychee and plantains. In fact, it is like Tropical Lifesavers on steroids. This is a rich, ripe wine for those who want to bite into fruit right off the plantation. After the third sip, I was transported to New Orleans, to my first visit to the French Quarter half a lifetime ago. I will never forget the slightly musty near-the-warm-water aromas, laced with heady fragrances of jasmine, bourbon and all that jazz. That night, I had Bananas Foster at Commander’s Palace. Drinking this wine and reminiscing about that evening made me positively sweat, I mean, perspire. Please, someone, hand me a fan: preferably something ivory handled, and lavish with Spanish lace.
(Alc. 15.5%, Retail: $24)
Reviewed September 8, 2006 by Laura Ness.
A wine writer and wine judge for major publications and competitions around the country, Laura Ness likens wine to the experience of music. She is always looking for that ubiquitous marriage of rhythm, melody, and flawless execution. What is good music? You know it when you get lost in it. What is good wine? It is music in your mouth.